Today, we’re coming at ya’ with some easy and essential tips on how to lose the lower belly pooch after giving birth.
Firstly, let me tell you:
If you’re wondering if your stomach will ever look like it did before you got pregnant, I’ll be honest with you:
It probably won’t.
I’ve had two babies now, and I know my belly will never be the same for obvious reasons. Nor will it ever be super flat. But I am fine with that. It took me a while to embrace this fact, and that’s exactly what every new mom needs.
Time to heal, embrace and get stronger.
I know it sounds harsh, but hear me out:
There is actually a good chance you can heal and repair your abs, and by doing so, to lose the lower belly pooch eventually. But it requires some specialized core work, consistency, and determination.
How long does it take to lose the lower belly pooch?
The stomach is often the toughest part of the body to return into pre-pregnancy shape.
It takes some time and effort to fully recover from pregnancy.
I know you are not dreaming about the six-pack. You just don’t want to look five months pregnant, with a belly that is mushy and rounder than you expected.
“It takes nine months to stretch stomach muscles to grow your baby. Expect the same amount of time for your tummy to tighten up again.”
I know you might probably read this sentence everywhere, but honestly, that’s the real deal. Awaiting your belly to shrink back into pre-pregnancy shape anytime before 6 to 9 months postpartum is just not realistic.
Toning your post-baby belly
During pregnancy, your body has gained some extra belly fat, that is, unfortunately, known to be quite stubborn – even more so than regular abdominal fat. It’s easy to gain, but hard to lose.
Strengthening your core together with light cardio is essential to losing the baby belly pouch. Getting rid of your extra belly fat and toning the core changes the appearance of your tummy dramatically.
1. Focus on cardio
Most of the pooch is made from pregnancy fat leftover. Although you might think crunches and ab routines are all you need to fix this problem, that’s not the case.
This is where walking comes to save the day. In order to lose the lower belly pooch, you will need to focus on a fat loss before you start any intense ab-routines.
As a matter of fact, there is a study that shows walking is just as good as running in terms of health effects.
Plus, there is so much more to it than just a weight loss.
Walking outside helps you to fight the postpartum blues by reducing your stress levels. In fact, walking an hour a day can work wonders for you! It has an amazingly positive impact on your cardiovascular system, as it reduces the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, or stroke.
There are two types of walking that will help you lose the lower belly fat.
Try slow-paced and long walks with added difficulty like walking uphill. Bonus points if you are pushing a stroller and having your baby in a baby carrier! Aim for a duration of at least 45 minutes.
Alternatively, you can try fast-paced, interval walking.
For this type of walking, choose a route with a flat surface. Begin with an easy light walk for 5 minutes to warm up the body. Continue with a moderate walk for another 5 min. Then switch to a speed walk and try to maintain as fast pace as possible for 3 minutes, then switch again to 5 min moderate walk until you can catch the breath.
Aim for at least 5-speed walk intervals in 1 walking session – that’s about 45 min walking workout in total.
Don’t forget to add a 5 min easy walk to cool down and a few stretches at the very end of your session.
2. Check for diastasis
I know my abs have suffered tremendously with two pregnancies and quite big babies. I have a diastasis and a small umbilical hernia I’ve managed to reduce with a help of a PT and specialized core workouts.
Don’t throw yourself into a “100 crunches a day” regime straight away. Before you start any core exercises, make sure you self-check for ab separation.
Abdominal Separation or Diastasis Recti means your belly sticks out because the space between your front left and right abdominal muscles has widened. This is caused by much pressure on the belly during pregnancy.
This simple test can show if you suffer from ab separation:
Lie on your back, bend your knees, and put your feet on the floor. Place your fingers about an inch above your belly button with your fingertips pointing towards your feet. Lift your head as you were starting a crunch and see how many fingers fit in the space between your left and right ab muscles. If the gap is more than two fingers wide, you most probably have ab separation.
Healing ab separation is also closely linked to strengthening your pelvic floor muscles. That is why you need to work on both in order to get your core into shape.
There are certain dos and don’ts when it comes to exercising abs with diastasis. Make sure you check them out here to get your workout right!
3. Strengthen pelvic muscles
A pelvic floor is a group of muscles around your bladder, vagina and anal passage. It supports your pelvic organs and, during pregnancy, also the baby inside your womb. Pregnancy and birth can cause the pelvic floor to weaken as the weight of your baby and the labour put a lot of pressure on these muscles.
Too weak pelvic muscles can cause more serious health issue called prolapse – this happens when one or more pelvic organs (uterus, bladder or rectum) sag down into the vagina. In most cases, prolapse can be treated without surgery by strengthening the core and pelvic muscles.
Just like any weakened or injured muscles in our body, also the pelvic ones can be repaired. And even better – they can be strengthened beyond their previous condition. Check out my personal journey with pelvic weakness and how I’ve managed to heal my pelvic floor here.
The abdominal muscles support the pelvic floor. If you have exercised before pregnancy, the chances are that strength of your abs may exceed the strength of your pelvic muscles.
That is why it’s important to start working on the condition of the pelvic floor first and then slowly build up to a more intense core workout.
Be careful not to overwork the outside core muscles without previous pelvic floor strengthening!
4. Watch your posture
One exercise that is super important and has a great impact on strengthening the pelvic floor muscles is simple, yet most of us tend to overlook it.
It is a good body posture.
Try to watch your body alignment throughout the day – not only it helps to tone your pelvic muscles – perfect posture makes you look slimmer, taller, and more attractive!
5. Build a strong core
A lot of the pooch comes from the muscles being stretched and separated, and we need to encourage the muscles to go back together.
You need to rebuild your entire core strength again and the best way to do this is to build a solid abs foundation by starting at the very base. As your core regains its strength, you can slowly start to work your way up towards building a flat stomach.
When strengthening your postpartum core, it is important to know which exercises are safe for you. Forget crunches, sit-ups or double-leg lowers. Any challenging or strong abdominal exercises are a no-go until your pelvic muscles and ab separation are healed and strengthened again.
Opt for gentle exercises that tone your abs while placing minimal pressure on the pelvic floor:
Arm and leg lift on all four.
This move provides great toning to your abs as well as strengthens your spine. To begin, put yourself on all fours and then reach your right arm in front of your body and at the same time, extend your left leg behind your body. Hold for a couple of seconds and repeat on alternate sides.
Try to do as many reps as comfortable (10-15 reps).
Leg lift sitting on the ball.
This exercise looks so easy, but it actually puts your deep abdominal muscles into some serious training. Sit on the exercise ball, hold onto it with your fingers. Make sure you have a good posture throughout the exercise. Slowly lift your right knee and put your left foot off the ground. Alternate sides. Do 10 reps to each side.
There are so many benefits you will get with a stronger core and pelvic floor. Apart from eliminating leaks, a strong core will take the strain off your back, you’ll have a slimmer waist and flatter stomach. Your period will be less painful and what is even better, your sex life will improve as well! Investing some time in your core and pelvic floor definitely pays off.
Consistency and patience is the key
For most women, it takes somewhere between 9 months and a year postpartum to lose the lower belly pooch and get their pre-pregnancy belly back. It is just about the same time it took to grow a baby in it.
The stomach is often the toughest part of the body to return into pre-pregnancy shape.
It takes some time and effort to fully recover from pregnancy and get rid of mommy tummy.
But let me say out of my personal experience – it is totally possible!
Make daily cardio and specialized core routine (remember to check for diastasis beforehand!) a habit. Not only will strengthening your core help you to get rid of the pooch, but it’ll also improve circulation and reduce your risk of back pain, varicose veins, leg cramps, ankle and foot swelling, and much more!
Article Contributor: Eva Martin from Fit4Motherhood.com!